NEWS     FRIDAY,  OCTOBER  5, 2018    NEWS

Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers: FBI probe is 'stain' on confirmation
Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the chief accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, said Thursday that the FBI’s updated background investigation was a “stain” on the confirmation process and the FBI because it wasn’t thorough enough. In a letter to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray the lawyers listed eight witnesses they said should have been contacted but weren’t, including longtime friends of Ms. Blasey Ford, her husband, and the ex-FBI agent who conducted a polygraph exam in August. Ms. Blasey Ford herself also wasn’t interviewed. “The ‘investigation’ conducted over the past five days is a stain on the process, on the FBI and on our American ideal of justice,” the lawyers wrote. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: The big stain will prove to be on Ford.

Sen. Jeff Merkley demands immediate court ruling to halt Kavanaugh vote
Sen. Jeff Merkley asked a court Thursday afternoon to quickly step in and delay the Senate from voting on this weekend on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Mr. Merkley has filed a long-shot lawsuit arguing President Trump has violated the Constitution by withholding documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s past, denying senators the ability to make an informed decision on the nomination. That, he says, violates the Constitution’s demand that the Senate give “advice and consent” on nominations. The Oregon Democrat asked for a hearing Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, just before the Senate is expected to hold a final vote on the judge’s elevation. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Merkley is wasting more time with his destructive action.

Friday morning as senators weigh FBI report
Two pivotal Republican senators in the debate over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court made initially positive comments Thursday on an FBI background investigation of the nominee, raising the chances of his confirmation. A procedural vote on the Kavanaugh nomination was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EDT. If it passes, it could pave the way for a final vote as early as Saturday. Republican leaders scheduled the vote after senators viewed a highly anticipated FBI report into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that had been sent to Capitol Hill. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who was instrumental in persuading Senate leaders to move forward with the FBI investigation last week, said the report showed "no additional corroborating information" to suggest Kavanaugh committed sexual assault. USA Today

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Gripes fly free: Southwest Airlines gets earful about fare sale on Facebook, Twitter
Southwest Airlines books a bundle of business during its twice-a-year mega fare sales. The nation's largest domestic carrier also rings up plenty of gripes on social media from travelers disappointed by the widely advertised sale, which touts round trip fares as low as $98. We're unlocking millions of low fares for your winter travel! Complaints are a job hazard in an industry where many customers believe cheap airline tickets – widely available and with few restrictions, fine print be damned — are a birthright. And social media is the new complaint line. Check any airline's Twitter feed 24/7 for confirmation. USA Today

Hundreds arrested in protests against Kavanaugh's confirmation
Hundreds of people were arrested during protests against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday, law enforcement officials said. U.S. Capitol Police said 239 people were arrested for unlawfully demonstrating in the Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building in protest of Kavanaugh's confirmation as he faces accusations of sexual assault, The Washington Post reported. Among those detained were comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski. UPI
VOA VIEW: Fools!

U.S. seeks to reduce waivers for immigration fees
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is proposing changing the eligibility for fee waivers for lower-income immigrants on the path to legal permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. Immigration advocates say the move is like building an "invisible wall." USCIS announced the change Friday in the Federal Register. Receiving means-tested public benefits from the states would no longer result in automatic USCIS fee waivers, the proposal states. Instead, fee waivers would only be tied to two criteria: the federal poverty threshold or particular financial hardships. The change is necessary, USCIS said, because "eligibility for these benefits can vary from state to state, depending on the state's income level guidelines," meaning that "individuals who would not otherwise qualify under the poverty-guideline threshold and financial hardship criteria have been granted fee waivers." UPI

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Supreme Court nominee decries 'vicious' attacks in op-ed
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, decrying what he described as "vicious" attacks against him while admitting he "might have been too emotional" during his hearing on Capitol Hill last week. "I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times," Kavanaugh wrote. "I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters." The embattled nominee was criticized after his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the visible emotion he displayed as he testified under oath. In his opening remarks, he appeared angry and sometimes tearful as he adamantly denied he sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, or anyone. Fox

'It’s time for women to be heard': thousands protest Kavanaugh in Washington
Thousands of protesters, among them victims of sexual assault, have descended upon the US Capitol with a desperate final appeal to lawmakers to reject embattled supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The demonstrations began early Thursday afternoon, one day before the US Senate is poised to take its first vote on the judge’s nomination to America’s highest bench. Many protesters and activists had traveled to the nation’s capital from across the country. They marched to a rallying cry: “We believe Dr Christine Blasey Ford”, the university professor who has accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly and violently sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teenagers. Guardian
VOA VIEW: Idiots!

U.S. agency saw sharp rise in sexual harassment complaints after #MeToo
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said on Thursday that the number of sexual harassment complaints workers filed with the agency over the past year rose for the first time in nearly a decade, attributing the increase to the #MeToo movement. The commission said the number of complaints, known as charges, filed in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 rose more than 12 percent over the previous year, when it received about 6,700. It said the numbers were preliminary, as the agency typically publishes comprehensive data from its fiscal year by the following February. EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic said in a statement that the numbers reflected “the heightened demand of the #MeToo movement.” Reuters
VOA VIEW: #Me too is easy to claim.

Despite Mexico and Congress's opposition, US moves ahead with plan to give Mexico $20M to deport migrants
The Trump administration is moving ahead with a plan to pay Mexico $20 million to deport migrants from that country and prevent them from reaching the U.S. – even after the plan had been halted by top Democrats in Congress and so far dismissed by the Mexican government. The plan is just the latest by the administration to reduce the number of immigrants crossing the U.S. southern border, including its “zero tolerance” policy where anyone entering illegally would be prosecuted – leading to the infamous separations of children from their parents. ABC
VOA VIEW: Mexicans would not come to the US illegally if they could earn a livable income in Mexico.

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Lawyer for Clinton campaign and DNC gave FBI documents for Russia probe
A top lawyer working with the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign contacted the FBI’s general counsel in late 2016 and provided documents for the Russia probe as federal investigators prepared a surveillance warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page, sources close to a congressional investigation told Fox News, citing new testimony. The FBI official who was contacted, James Baker, revealed the exchange to congressional investigators during a closed-door deposition Wednesday. He said Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann initiated contact with him and provided documents as well as computer storage devices on Russian hacking. The sources said Baker described the contact as unusual and the “only time it happened.” Fox
VOA VIEW: The FBI was complicit with dishonesty and deceit.

Pence ramps up charges of Chinese meddling in the U.S.
In a speech highly critical of China’s behavior around the world, Vice President Mike Pence laid out an increasingly confrontational approach to Beijing, signaling tougher actions to come to combat what President Trump sees as a threat to the American economy and his political authority. Pence ripped into China for what he described as military aggression in the region, “debt diplomacy” abroad and religious oppression at home. Speaking at the conservative think tank Hudson Institute, he repeated the president’s recent accusation that Beijing is attempting to influence the U.S. midterm election to undermine Trump’s leadership and American democracy. LA Times
VOA VIEW: China has finally confronted its match - Trump.

U.S. Senate approves legislation to oversee U.S. air traffic, drones
Airline passengers can no longer be removed from flights under legislation that passed the Senate on Wednesday, while the government will write new rules to allow commercial drones to deliver packages and get new authority to shoot down dangerous ones. The U.S. Senate on a 93 to 6 vote Wednesday approved a 1,200-page bill overseeing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that includes some significant new airline passenger protections. For instance, the FAA must set minimum dimensions for passenger seats, including legroom and width “necessary for the safety of passengers.” Officials said President Donald Trump plans to sign the bill within days. But the airline industry scored a significant win after Congress dropped plans to mandate “reasonable and proportional” baggage and change fees. Reuters

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Voters plead with Susan Collins to oppose Kavanaugh – but which way will she swing?
In the end, whether or not the supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed could come down to the vote of one senator: Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine. Historically, she is popular with women. She attracts voters who are registered Democrats. She opposed Trump’s candidacy for president, saying that he could make the world “more dangerous”. And she has vowed not to support a supreme court nominee who demonstrates hostility to Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States. But on Kavanaugh, she has remained mostly silent and her intentions are still a mystery. Guardian
VOA VIEW: Collins would be a fool to go against Kavanaugh.

Republicans face big risks in contested California races as Democrats fight for control of the House
Republicans are at risk of a wipeout in California’s six most hotly contested congressional races, a new poll shows — a result that could radically reshape the state’s political map, with major consequences nationally. But  the poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies, also underscores how close many of the contests remain. LA Times

Wave of effective — and expensive — cell and gene therapies challenges health insurers
Cancer patients, family and friends cheered when the first immune cell therapy for cancer, Kymriah, was approved last year for difficult blood malignancies. But the price of hundreds of thousands of dollars brought gasps. And as many other cellular and gene therapies head for approval, the wave of an entirely new class of effective but expensive therapies for otherwise fatal malignancies has health insurers around the world puzzling how to pay for them. San Diego Union

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Trump mocks Al Fraken for resigning amid sexual misconduct claims
President Trump mocked former Sen. Al Franken for resigning so quickly from office when faced with a sexual misconduct allegation. “That guy was wacky. Boy, did he fold up like a wet rag,” Trump told a rally Thursday night in Rochester, Minn. to cheers. “Man, he was gone so fast.” Trump has vehemently denied the more than a dozen claims of sexual harassment against him and has stood by his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who has aggressively fought back against sexual misconduct allegations. Trump made fun of Franken’s choice to step down rather than defend himself from charges he groped women. New York Post

‘Widespread and persistent failures:’ Senators demand Wells Fargo CEO testify again
Wells Fargo’s CEO and board chairwoman should be made to testify before Congress following the bank’s “rampant consumer abuses” revealed over the past year, some Senate Democrats said Thursday. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee, and other Democratic committee members called for a hearing with Wells CEO Tim Sloan and chairwoman Betsy Duke. The request was made in a letter to committee Chairman Mike Crapo, of Idaho. Wells Fargo said in a statement that the bank welcomes “the opportunity to continue to provide the committee with information on these matters and to affirm our commitment to our customers, team members and communities.” Charlotte Observer
VOA VIEW: Wells Fargo has problems.

Dutch authorities brief world chemical weapons watchdog on alleged Russian cyber attack
The Ministry informed the OPCW chief that the attack was disrupted by the Netherlands Defence Intelligence and Security Service, which reportedly caught four alleged Russian agents who were in possession of specialist hacking equipment, near OPCW Headquarters in The Hague. The briefing came as the United States and the United Kingdom, joined the Netherlands on Thursday in accusing Russian spies of involvement in a series of “cyber-plots” across the globe. Russia's Foreign Ministry is reported to have dismissed the allegations. The OPCW is the UN-backed implementing body, consisting of more than 190 Member States, for the Chemical Weapons Convention, which aims to eliminate chemical weapons and their use. The Convention has proved to be the world’s most successful disarmament treaty so far, eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. UN

The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies
In 2015, Amazon.com Inc. began quietly evaluating a startup called Elemental Technologies, a potential acquisition to help with a major expansion of its streaming video service, known today as Amazon Prime Video. Based in Portland, Ore., Elemental made software for compressing massive video files and formatting them for different devices. Its technology had helped stream the Olympic Games online, communicate with the International Space Station, and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency. Elemental’s national security contracts weren’t the main reason for the proposed acquisition, but they fit nicely with Amazon’s government businesses, such as the highly secure cloud that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was building for the CIA. Bloomberg

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Heidi Heitkamp says she will vote against Kavanaugh
It’s going to be a “no” vote on Brett Kavanaugh from North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, one of the few Democratic senators who’d been undecided on the Supreme Court nominee. Heitkamp told WDAY, a TV station in Fargo, that “the process has been bad, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision and I’ve made that decision.” And Heitkamp, who’s facing a tight re-election race in a state that Donald Trump won by a large margin in 2016, then said: “I will be voting ‘no’ on Judge Kavanaugh.” New York Post

UN chief urges peaceful, free and fair elections in Cameroon
In a statement from his spokesperson, the UN chief also called on all stakeholders to “exercise restraint before, during and after the election.” He also urged all Cameroonians to exercise their democratic rights, urging all candidates “to address any complaints related to the electoral process through established legal and constitutional channels.” Nine candidates are contesting the elections to the country’s highest body, according to media reports. Further in the statement, the Secretary-General condemned all threats of violence or acts of intimidation by any group and reiterated that all grievances should be addressed through inclusive dialogue. UN

Trump administration releases new counterterrorism strategy
President Trump approved a new national counterterrorism strategy on Thursday, in what the administration framed as a significant departure from Obama-era policy.
The strategy emphasizes pursuing sources of terrorism and isolating their support, with an increased focus on combating extreme ideologies, national security adviser John Bolton told reporters at the White House. The Trump administration calls it the first comprehensive strategy since one released by the Obama White House in 2011. The strategy encompasses combating "radical Islamic terrorism" — a phrase the president has embraced — and border security, two key elements of his campaign and agenda in office. "It is a departure," Bolton told reporters in a briefing on the strategy Thursday. "And the reason is that it's not simply a unilateral decision by the United States to end this ideological war. It's not enough that we find it inconvenient that we're still under attack. The fact is the radical Islamic threat that we face is a form of ideology." CBS

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